Speculative Fiction vs Fantasy and Science Fiction

I like to think that there is some value to writing about people living in space, or in worlds where magic works.  Reflecting on the human condition, what it means to experience the universe, even the enduring question of consciousness, human consciousness, might be putatively valuable when we’re confronted with the specter of general artificial … Read more

What’s in a Genre?

Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels

Romance, Science Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy, Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary, Non-Fiction There are a lot of different genres, and when you boil it down, there are a lot of different sub-genres. You might write fantasy, or you might write dark urban fantasy supernatural romance. The first one covers everything from the Dragons of Pern to Game … Read more

Make it Mysterious

Readers love mysteries and will endlessly work to justify or figure out the details. Whereas if you pedantically point out every little pointless factoid they’ll quibble with you and you’ll probably get some things wrong, and you’re probably not a: Biologist, and an Historian, and a Geologist, and an Astrophysicist, and a Vulcanologist, and an … Read more

The Missing Piece

One of the most frequent settings of fantasy novels, even secondary world fantasies, is some sort of take on Medieval, or Dark Ages, or Renaissance Europe.  Usually Western Europe. Sometimes it’s actually analog Italy or analog Spain, but usually, it’s a mishmash analog of France and the British Isles.  Authors frequently borrow concepts and institutions … Read more

Do you need a Villain?


Great villains often make for great stories. And in the last few years, there’ve been a number of memorable retellings of tales from the point of view of antagonists. Some of this began with post-modern deconstructions of faerie tales, asking questions like “why would a witch be luring two children to her house to eat … Read more

Sharpening the Axe

But Chop some Wood too If you’re struggling as a writer, one really successful method of procrastination is to get better at writing. You can read, and think critically about what you’re reading. Take writing classes. Go to seminars, conferences, workshops, conventions. Read books on writing by famous successful writers. Listen to podcasts. At some … Read more